The story of Elisa

The story of Elisa (Elisa Izquierdo, 1989 – 1995) is the true story of a child who did not have the time to open its wings and was characterized by the authorities of New York as the “worst case of child abuse ever witnessed”. Divorced parents with a father who did the best he could, but who, unfortunately, died young. A “sick” mother drowned in drugs and a “healthy” state where formalities crush the essence. In 1995, the cynical society of New York would be shocked by the news of six-year-old Elisa’s death from abuse.

New Yorkers signed a Never Again manifesto, while in February of 1996, Elisa’s Law was enacted, which redefines the responsibilities of the state and social services on matters of child abuse by increasing the accountability of all those involved in child protection and by limiting confidentiality in relation to the disclosure of such cases. Elisa would become a world symbol and a New York Times cover-story, as well as the topic of numerous articles in the media.

At first, Elisa was living with her father; she went to school regularly and she grew up normally. Following her father’s death, though, Elisa was placed in the custody of her biological mother and soon things started to go wrong: the little girl stopped attending school regularly and was not the happy child she once was. Despite all attempts, nobody managed to step in as the judge, in accordance with the social worker, had given Elisa’s custody to her mother.

The death of Elisa brought to the surface, in the most tragic way, the insufficiency of child protection services and profoundly shook public opinion on the phenomenon of child abuse and neglect.

Find out more here about how we can, all together, break the silence.